Magic Mike

Magic Mike ★★★★

The hypocrisy of it all. I can't understand it and frankly, I don't want to. I have watched so many films or television shows with my wife that practically throw nude women at the screen for the enjoyment of the male portion of the audience and never once does it seem odd or strange that she is sitting there witnessing the debauchery unfold. In fact, if she were to complain about having to see so many naked members of her own gender the world would probably label her a prude or question what exactly the big deal is. It's only nudity, they would say. The human form is a beautiful thing to be cherished.

So let's flip that coin for a second. Let's fast forward to the conversation I had with a woman who expressed her desire to see Magic Mike. When I encouraged her to see it, she laughed, an assumption that I was doing so tongue-in-cheek. "No, seriously, it's a really good movie" I said, because it is and as a film enthusiast I feel it's my duty to be honest about such things. Her smile that had lingered from her laughter disappeared. She acted like I had just confessed to the type of crime that would land me on a sexual predator watchdog website. She looked at another person near and said "Wow, Scott liked Magic Mike." in a rude, harmful tone, as if I had something to be ashamed of.

I am ashamed of nothing. If anyone should be ashamed it is her. Magic Mike is mighty fine cinema.

While the narrative as a whole is not ground breaking, as it apes numerous previous films in terms of structure and the themes at play, I have no trouble enjoying the familiarity of it all as I bask in the warm, golden glow of the Steven Soderbergh cinematography and just go along for the ride. I find the performances admirable and also the willingness of the screenplay to give us very personal, meaningful conversations between different characters even if such dialogue doesn't lead to any grand reveal or typical Hollywood plot twist. At first glance Magic Mike feels flashy and frenetic, a picture that focuses on the dance moves of perfectly sculpted men as we are dazed by pulsing pop music and strobe lights but the truth is, the film is very intimate and feels extremely honest and real in the progression (or lack there of) of the plot.

Much like Magic Mike itself, the acting abilities of Channing Tatum also gets an unfairly bad rap because of some bad projects he participated in years ago, movies that featured across the board wooden performances yet for whatever reason Tatum carried the stigma of being sans talent with him despite doing everything possible to prove otherwise. Here he is a charismatic and believable lead which makes sense as he is telling his own story, the truth of an 18 year old stripper who got lost in the glitz and glamour of a lifestyle that was never as perfect as it seemed.

Listen up, gentlemen. It's okay to watch Magic Mike. It's okay to enjoy it too. No, really, it is. It's a shame this apparently needs to be clarified. It's a shame that a man like Steven Soderbergh crafts a really good film, shot with confidence and featuring a story that beautifully walks a tight rope between the over-the-top extreme and the authenticity of quiet character development and real, admirable sincerity, and it gets tossed into a category of cinema deemed only appropriate for a ladies night out.

All that matters for me is whether Magic Mike is a good film. It is. It really is.

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